When Life is Hard

Posted on: August 24th, 2014

Life is always changing and you can be sure tomorrow will be different from today. This change is sometimes good and joyful, but it can also bring pain and heartache. I guess not knowing what the future holds helps to make life exciting.

Whatever today brings, most of us still want the next day to be better. Sadly, we know it does not always work out that way. Good days can follow bad days and bad days can follow good days. Life is just not all that consistent from minute to minute.

Think about all the changes that take place in a normal life. Have you ever played the game where a group of adults bring their baby pictures and everyone tries to guess who’s who? Not easy to do because our looks change as we grow-up. I hope we get smarter and stronger in our teenage years than we were as infants. We take a job making minimum wage and with hard work and time we get a raise. Then a new company comes along wanting our services and so we move on. A man and woman marry, and then have children and grandchildren. Most of us would probably view these changes as good, but we also know some of them can turn into heartache quickly.

Try as we may to keep life on a good footing, events happen that discourage and hurt us. Some feel the world mistreats
them at every turn. It is even possible to get to a point where we believe “If we didn’t have bad luck we would have no luck at all.” The truth is no matter what I do or how I live life is fickle.

This is not to say we should give up on trying to have a good life, or think we must be miserable when events go south. First, I can do a lot to help myself in this life. By being a good family member I can reduce family problems. A faithful and honest worker has less trouble than someone who is lazy. Watch what you say and how you say it to get along better with people. These are just a few biblical principles that help us to reduce problems in life.

Next, I should know that I decide what my life is going to be like. While I cannot control everything that happens to me, the way people treat me or the unfortunate events in life, I can choose how I will react. Who chooses to get mad and stay mad when people are mean? I do. Who chooses to hold on to a grudge? Me again, that’s who. The world is against me, no one likes me, and I am always mistreated. None of these statements are true, and if I feel this way then the problem is with me. We need to choose better for ourselves. Even if everyone deserts me, God will never leave me so long as I am faithful to Him.

If you doubt your power to choose to do right in hard times, then consider our Lord’s example. He prayed for the forgiveness of those who crucified Him when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Then He chose these people to hear the first gospel sermon. (Acts 2:36) If anyone ever had a right to hold on to a grudge it was Christ, but He did not. Jesus prayed often when life was good or hard. Who can forget His prayer in Gethsemane? (Matt. 14:32-41) Prayer is a most powerful tool against Satan and hardships. (Eph. 6:10-20)

You might argue that we are talking about what Christ did and none of us can live up to His perfect example. Well then consider the Apostle Paul’s choices. The Jews doggedly persecuted him and even followed him from city to city. (Acts 14:19) They beat, whipped, and stoned him for preaching the gospel, for trying to save people. Yet Paul said, “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” (Rom. 10:1) I know anger and disappointment can set in at times, but that is no excuse for us to sin.

Finally, know that God tells me how to think, live, and react so this world does not control my life. When people mistreat me, I should pray for them and forgive them. I cannot do this while holding onto a grudge or judging another’s motives impurely. If I follow the advice of Paul I will not be able to hold onto hard feelings. He said, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph. 4:31-32)

The Lord also reminds us that our focus should be on eternal issues and concerns. (2 Cor. 4:16-18) Whatever happens in this life cannot remove me from God’s love and grace unless I choose to give up on Him. (Rom. 8:35-39) Yes, this life is hard and “unfair” at times, but God is going to stick with me if I stick with Him.

What will today bring? I do not know. But however people treat me and whatever life throws at me, it is my choice how to respond. If I react like a Christian, then all is well.

Terry Starling